New blood test can detect biggest killer of dogs before it’s too late to treat

The Sunday Times reports on a new test which provides dog owners with an early warning that their dog has cancer. Shockingly, it’s a disease that kills about half of dogs over the age of 10 in the UK.

Image: MikeB using Canva.

This new diagnostic test will be launched on Monday, 6th November 2023. Just a few millimetres of blood is required for the test to pick up signs of cancer, early treatment of which can save lives.

The statistics are frankly shocking: 25% of the 11 million pet dogs in the UK will develop cancer. Half of them over the age of ten will die from the disease according to Nick Bacon, a professor of surgical oncology at Surrey University’s school of veterinary medicine.

The test apparently is the first time that vets can screen for cancer in dogs. Because they couldn’t screen cancer wasn’t spotted early enough which obviously resulted in more dogs dying of cancer than should have been the case.

The new test is called the Nu.Q vet test. It’s designed to be used often on healthy dogs. They say the test should be given annually from the age of seven. And those breeds predisposed to developing cancer such as labradors, golden retrievers and the French Bulldogs should be tested from the age of four.

The test has been available in the United States where it costs a hundred dollars. It is hoped that a similar charge will be made in the UK which equates to £80.

Mr Bacon from Aura Veterinary in Guildford, Surrey, said: “It’s what pet owners have been asking for, for decades. It will save lives and it will change oncology.”

The American biotech company, Volition, makes the test. It measures the levels of bundles of DNA and protein released by cancer cells called nucleosomes. A teaspoonful of the dog’s blood is required. A version for cats is being developed.

If the test is failed then the veterinarian will do further test to confirm the diagnosis. The further tests can help to diagnose the type of cancer.

A study found that the test picks up 77% of cases of lymphoma (600 dogs participated). This is one of the most common types of cancer suffered by dogs.

And, dogs are prone to cancer of the blood vessels. This test detects 80% of this type of cancer. And it picks up 50% of cases of skin cancer which often occurs inside the mouth of dogs.

The test isn’t as good at detecting some cancers compared to others. For example, it picked up only about 33% of the bone cancer osteosarcoma.

Overall, The Sunday Times, reports that the test can spot about 50% of cases of the seven most common cancers affecting dogs.

Many cancers will be missed but many more will be found where they were not found before. Cancers in dogs can go undetected for a relatively long time because they often don’t cause pain.

They can be detected when, for example, they press on other parts of the body such as kidneys. And dogs can hide symptoms or their owners simply can’t spot them. All these factors lead to cancer being present for longer than it should be.

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Post Category: Dogs > Canine Health